"Hello?" I asked, answering my cell. It was a number I didn't recognize.
A deadpan voice recited a script to me: "Hello, this is blah-blah-blah, I am a relay operator, I am calling on behalf of Lady, who is deaf. Anything you wish to say, you must address to the caller. I am only the relay operator, so please do not talk directly to me. I will type whatever you say into a terminal, which will be read by the caller. Then, the caller will type their reply and I will read it to you. Are you ready to begin?" (Ok, I don't remember word-for-word what he said, but it was similar to this. And he said it at about 5,873 words per minute.)
"Um....what? I think this is a wrong number. I have no idea what you are talking about." I said.
*HUGE sigh on operator's part*
"Ma'am, you cannot talk directly to me. I am calling on behalf of a deaf person. If you have a question, please direct it to the caller," the operator said, still totally deadpan.
"Ok. Sorry," I replied. A lightbulb had gone on in my head--this is how deaf people make phone calls. They need an interpreter. Ok. Makes sense.
There was just one, teeny-tiny problem: I don't know any deaf people.
I took a deep breath. I figured it was a deaf person, dialing the wrong number. I hadn't even said anything, and I already felt bad that I needed to tell some poor, frustrated deaf person to hang up and try again.
"Um, caller, what did you say your name was?" I asked.
I heard typing. I waited a second for the reply.
The operator read it to me: "This is Lady. Remember, we did this last Saturday? How is your new dog?"
"What the...? I'm sorry, I'm very confused right now. There must be some mistake. I don't know any deaf people," I said, flustered.
*another HUGE sigh from the deadpan operator*
"Ma'am, I need to remind you that you cannot speak directly to me. Please discuss this with the caller."
"Ok," I said, thinking I should probably just hang up. "Lady, what is your last name?"
(I thought it was very ironic that I was getting a wrong number call from a deaf woman named Lady--just like my best friend. I also thought it was weird that this stranger was asking about my new dog. Weird coincidence. So I was in "Detective VB" mode at this point.)
The operator said, "My last name is Sarflish." -- It sounded like her last name, but all garbled up. Hmmm. Then I remembered that she had just eloped to Las Vegas to get married (no joke), and I didn't know her new husband's last name. So this question needed to be thrown out anyway. Back to the investigative drawing board.
I thought of a better question: "Lady, what is the name of your dog?" I asked.
More typing by the operator.
"Petunia and I love her very much," came the reply. That is Lady Starfish's dog's name. This HAD to be her calling me. Then, I thought about it....and usually when thinking happens, my overactive imagination will take over.
OHMYGOD, Lady Starfish must have been in a car accident, and now she was in the hospital, and she has lost her hearing!!!! OHMIGOD!!!!!!
"LADY! Are you ok? Were you in an accident? Why are you calling me like this? If this is a joke, it is NOT FUNNY!" I said, panicking. I heard the operator typing vigorously.
The more I thought about her being in a car accident, the more upset I became. I started to get tears in my eyes.
Then, my call waiting beeped--it was Lady Starfish.
"Hold on," I said to the operator. I clicked over, suddenly realizing I was the victim of a cruel practical joke.
"AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!" Lady Starfish laughed. "Oh, man, that was the best joke ever! I totally got you!"
"Lady, that was NOT funny! I really thought you were deaf! I was worried you had been in a car accident and you were in the hospital!" I shouted.
"You DID? Oh my gawd, that is so funny. No, I'm not in the hospital. If that had happened, I would have had [her husband] call you. Good grief. It's just this website where you can go and pretend you're deaf. They will call any number you want. Wanna do it to Repo?" she asked.
"NO. I don't. That was not funny. I was really worried. I mean, I'm sure I'll laugh about it one day, but you really upset me--I was on the verge of crying," I lectured her.
"Oh, I'm sorry! But it really was so funny. The best part was, after everything you said, when the operator would type it, he would put in parentheses: 'sounds confused'. I was cracking up!" she laughed.
"And I'm not doing it to Repo, because a) he can kiss my ass and b) he would just hang up anyway. He is not the kind of person who would play along like me. You are totally evil, by the way," I said.
She apologized again, and we had a normal conversation. We talked about her elopement again, I told her about Toby and Hot Neighbor, she told me how she had lost her driver's license somehow. She doesn't even know when or where she lost it. She's such a dingbat. After catching up, we decided we need to get together with our doggies one weekend--Petunia is her new, little pug puppy. [Awww...] Now that it's getting warm, I like to take a break from the heat and visit her in the Tennessee mountains where she lives. It's beautiful up there. Besides, I haven't met her new husband yet.
Oh yes, I said new. She runs through men like I run through underwear. Kidding!!! Just a little joke, LS!!!!
I guess we are even now. You see, I was due for a practical joke. She and her ex-husband divorced before I met her. A few years ago, she and her ex-husband were talking and hanging out again, so I started to tease her and say they were going to get re-married. This annoyed her to no end, which only spurred me on.
I went to every wedding-related website I could think of and signed her up for free catalogs, magazines, brochures, email lists and samples. I even made a wedding registry for her at Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and Wal-Mart. She said she got free stuff in the mail and about 10 junk emails EVERY DAY for months. This still makes me giggle.
So now, we're even.